In a world replete with choices of designer bottled waters, what's left for customers to want these days? Well, here's a hint: A water with no sweeteners, no preservatives or artificial stuff, no calories (of course)—oh, and something that tastes a little more interesting than just water.
At least, this is what Kara Goldin wanted (and suspected plenty of others did, too) but when the mother of four went to the store, she realized that such a beverage didn't exist.
So she created one. At home, Goldin started blending water with the juices of pomegranates, cucumbers and limes—and that's it. "My friends liked it. My kids liked it," she said. "I kept referring to it as a hint of flavor, so we trademarked the name."
So here's another Hint: the newcomer, indie beverage, launched in 2005, with the tagline: "Drink water, not sugar." Hint comes in nine flavors, including tangerine and apple, and retails for about $1.69 a bottle. Hint has grown close to 1,000% in each of the last two years, according to COO/husband Theo Goldin, and sales are expected to exceed $5 million this year.
"In believing that a completely unsweetened essence water can have broad appeal, the Goldins are making a radical break with the conventional thinking that only sweetness sells," said Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, West Nyack, N.Y.
Still, it's a long way from the countertop of a San Francisco kitchen to the shelves of retailers like Stop & Shop. Hint managed to slip into the normally cutthroat beverage-distribution channels via a symbiotic partnership with none other than Disney. The resulting agreement allows the entertainment behemoth to place its movie properties on Hint's packaging, while Hint water shows up in Disney films including Ratatouille and the upcoming Nims Island.
"[The Goldins'] ability to win distribution and ally with a powerhouse like Disney has certainly turned heads,'" Khermouch said.
Hint may not be the next Coke, but its chances of making it really big aren't hard to swallow. After all, as Goldin points out, "You can't drink 10 Diet Cokes a day, [but] you can drink 10 Hints." —Kenneth Hein